TORONTO — A non-Jewish
Canadian actor was so shocked by
what she saw at Auschwitz that she
is the author and the star of a taut
drama she hopes will awaken young
Canadians to what happened during
the Holocaust.
"Those enormous piles of shoes
and clothing of the victims burned
into my brain" said Samantha
Swan, the London-born playwright
Star one of the 83 plays and 600
productions in the Fringe Festival.
which ended July 13.
Star is a resourceful and well
written play about Isaac and Lili, a
Toronto survivor couple who go
back to Berlin to search out Stella
(Samantha Swan), a Jewish artist's
model who denounced fellow Jews,
and find out what motivated her
heinous acts.
In the end, only Lili, who at one
time was her best friend, confronts
Stella about her involvement in
Lili's mother's being taken by the
Gestapo. But it is a hollow victory,
as narcissistic Stella, who once
dreamed of being another Marlene
Dietrich, denies any wrongdoing,
underlining the banality of evil.
Isaac, a pubescent idolizer of
Stella (he attended the same
school), who still dreams about her
svelte figure, does not even bother
to see her in the flesh, though he
ferreted out her Berlin address. En-
amored with "the trivia of the Third
Reich" as Lili puts it, Isaac says. "I
don't need to see her, I just need to
ask the questions."
What alarms this writer is that
up to press time, not one of the
three Toronto dailies had written
even a line, in the reams of Fringe
material, in advance, or in review,
Star, a first-rate play. Is the
Holocaust no longer of interest to
Star is the first production of
Cygnet Theatre Company and the
ensemble acting of Swan, Gloria
Saesura, Athena Reich, Robert
Fulton and Giles Hodge does the
new group proud —as does its di-
rection by Swan's husband, Christo-
pher Comrie.
All the actors except Swan play
several other roles. The effortless
scene changes are done in seconds
so that the tension never lets up.
With her blonde hair and Aryan
good looks, Swan makes a con-
vincing plump artist's model and
her scene with Reich, when the two
young girls fantasize about Dietrich,
is a gem. At curtain, Reich sings a
Hebrew folk song about pain and
When her husband finished his
work on a film in Budapest in 1992,
the couple, who were married in 1991, visited Poland and Auschwitz on a holiday, where the idea for
Star was born.
Visit to Auschwitz prompts
Canadian to create play
July 17, 1997
Staff Reporter
Samantha Swan
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